Food safety officials conduct raids on 502 shawarma outlets across Kerala

Shawarma outlets functioning in unhygienic conditions despite repeated health hazard warnings are turning out to be a major headache for food safety authorities. Following Statewide raids conducted on Friday on 502 food outlets, the food safety authorities issued notices to 54 outlets to stop shawarma production and sales with immediate effect after these were found to be making shawarma without following any of the guidelines issued by the food safety authorities.

A total of 88 food outlets were served compounding notices and 61 others were served rectification notices. With shawarma turning out to be the incriminating food item in several food poisoning episodes across the State, the food safety authorities had issued a clear set of guidelines to be mandatorily followed by all food outlets while making shawarma.

Awareness classes

Food safety officials are now insisting that those engaged in making shawarma should be fully aware of the scientific manner in which this item should be cooked and that they should attend the awareness classes being conducted by the food safety wing so that they can implement the safety practices in their own kitchens.

Shawarma should be prepared on clean surfaces and the stand and table should be totally dust-free and should not be left in the open. The shawarma stand should have a drip tray in the corner. The freezers used for shawarma making should be maintained clean and at -18° C while the chillers are to be maintained at 4° C. Pedal-operated waste bins alone should be used and food waste should be removed at periodic intervals.

Those handling the food should necessarily wear a hair cap, gloves, and a clean apron. Those engaged in making shawarma and handling the raw materials should have medical fitness certificates. The leftover meat in the “shawarma cone” after four continuous hours of production is not suitable for consumption. Shawarma takeaway parcels should be affixed with labels indicating the date and time of manufacture as well as the best-before-consumption time before handing over to customers.

Hygiene rating

Food safety authorities said that all hotels and restaurants should voluntarily apply for and secure the hygiene rating of the Food safety wing. The raids were coordinated by Food Safety Commissioner Jaffer Malik and led by teams under the Joint and Deputy Commissioners of Food Safety. Food safety raids will continue in view of the summer season, when the hazards of food-borne illnesses are potentially high, officials said.

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